William James. In search of the essence of religious experience

Michal Warchala's picture
Call for Papers
May 26, 2022 to May 27, 2022
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology, Psychology, Philosophy, Social Sciences




William James

In search of the essence of religious experience

International Online Conference

26-27 May, 2022

Cracow, Poland

The year 2022 sees the 180th anniversary of William James’s birth together with the 120th anniversary of the publication of his seminal Varieties of Religious Experience. Considering this a good occasion for reflection on various aspects of James’s thought the Chair for Sociology of Religion at the Pedagogical University of Cracow would like to invite for the international conference William James: In search of the essence of religious experience. The main focus of the conference will be James’s research on religious experience, however we do not want to neglect other aspects of his thought such as the relationships between this research on religion and James’s psychology or his philosophical pragmatism. Submissions from sociologists and psychologists as well as philosophers and theologians are equally welcome. What we propose is broad, interdisciplinary and critical discussion of James’s oeuvre including questions about its heritage and its power as a possible source of inspiration for today. The list of possible topics includes (among others):   

  • James as a philosopher and psychologist penetrating the field of religion and theology – it is worth remembering that Varieties of Religious Experiences is a book based on Gifford Lectures whose traditional topic is supposed to be issues related to natural theology. How inspiring are Jamesian lectures of theologians, mystics and religious virtuosi? 
  • The question of religious experience as explored in psychology, sociology or philosophy – James and beyond
  • James and his contemporaries. What is James’s position within the nascent social science of religion? How is he related to other classics of research on religion who were his contemporaries – such as Durkheim or Weber?
  • James and the tradition of American religious pluralism and spiritual inquiries
  • The inspiring power of James’s conception of religious experience – Charles Taylor in his 2000 Vienna lectures on the “varieties of religion today” not only called James’s book “immensely rich and multifaceted” but also pointed out that “it could have been written yesterday”. What is inspiring about James for today’s sociologist, psychologist or philosopher of religion?
  •  James’s pragmatism as related to his research on religious experience and religious imagination
  • The secular, religious and scientific – mutual relations and elective affinities; Jamesian heritage and its possible inspirations for today’s research.     

The conference will be held ONLINE on 26-27 May 2022. Submission abstracts of 300 words together with a short cv should be sent to conferencejames2022@gmail.com. The deadline for abstracts is 28 February 2022. Authors will be notified of the acceptance of their submissions by 15 March 2022.  All those whose submissions have been accepted will be asked to pay a conference fee of 25 EUR intended to cover the administration costs of the conference.  

Conference languages are English and Polish.  

All queries concerning the conference should be addressed to the organizing committee at conferencejames2022@gmail.com

Organizing committee:

Dr. Michał Warchala (chairman)                                                                 

Prof. Piotr Stawiński

Prof. Paula Malinowski-Rubio

Dr. Grzegorz Kubiński (conference secretary)

Dr. Maria Roginska

Dr. Bogdan Więckiewicz

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